D.J. asks from Amarillo, TX on November 18, 2008
Need Reward System for 4 Year Old
My 4 year old son is constantly asking/demanding new toys when we go places. I don't mind getting him little things here and there, but if it is something big I feel like he needs to earn it. He has chores around the house he is expected to do (feed the dog, take out the bathroom trash, etc). Lately I almost have to threaten him to do them. I need a reward system that will encourage him to help, not punish him for not helping. We tried putting a ball in a cup every time he was helpful, and when the cup was full he got a toy. That worked for a while, but he has lost interest. I also tried to an allowance, but he seems to be too young to understand the concept of money. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
R.E. answers from Dallas on November 18, 2008
I have a star chart on our linen closet. I made it on excel with 100 empty spots. When the boys do their chores, they get a star. They also get stars good behavior at school. I'll also give them to them for being good like if I go in the playroom and they are playing nicely, I'll make a big deal out of how proud I am of them and give them each one. Once their chart is filled, they get their allowance. If they want something at the store, I'll tell them how much it is, how much money they have and we discuss whether they want to spend their money on that or save it. It's amazing how much the desire decreases when it's their own money.
V.B. answers from Dallas on November 18, 2008
chart with stickers, you can always change stickers after he gets bored with them. also nickjr.com has great print outs and charts for the kids with all the characters on them.
M.D. answers from Dallas on November 18, 2008
I think you are doing great, I think it's more of his age that he doesn't care as much about picking up. I know my toddler loves to help out, but even money doesn't work on my 13 year old. Only when she really wants something. It's like all things, fun at first then after a while, you don't always feel like doing it. One suggestion I do have is making a list of shores, and then when he does them put a star or have him put a star by it that he's completed it. Then have another column that he can put another star in for a completed job and once you get so many (whatever you think should be) then he gets his toy or go to a special restaurant like ChuckECheese or something.
You are doing a GREAT Job!
S. answers from Dallas on November 19, 2008
When my daughters were 4, I had the same problem with rewards. I came up with a big sticker chart; and bought a bunch of little bitty stickers and another set of large stickers. I gave one little sticker for every good thing they did (or for refraining from being bad i.e. no hitting at school one day...). Once they had 5 little stickers, they got one big sticker. Once they had 5 big stickers, they got a special treat like a day at Planet Pizza. We had a big "ceremony" each time we put a sticker up, and let them choose the stickers. The positive reinforcement worked much better than the negative and was a lot more fun. Good luck.
C.R. answers from Dallas on November 18, 2008
I have a 4 year old daughter, here is what we started doing. We have colored plastic coins. Each thing she does or can do is worth so many coins. We also have a bank that the coins fit in. We have a chart, so we don't have to argue about how much the coins are worth. The chart has a picture of how many coins something costs, with a picture of each item. So for example, our daughter loves gum, so there is a picture of two coins that are next to a picture of a stick of gum. Candy costs a bit more and a toy costs more. She can clean up her toys for a coin, no arguing, she can be helpful to her little brother and may get a coin, if she helps with dinner or laundry she gets a coin. She doesn't have to do anything, but she knows that she doesn't get coins and then doesn't get prizes. If we go to the store and she doesn't have any coins, there is no discussion of wheter she gets a prize or not cause she knows.
Another bit of advice, you are the mom, you are the boss. Demands from children should not be met. It is your decision whether he gets a toy or not, who cares how much of a fit it causes. My daughter knows not to expect a toy just because we are at the store, she may be sad that I don't buy her one but she fully understands the rule.
K.H. answers from Dallas on November 19, 2008
You said he lost interest in the reward system. That may be because he wasn't getting rewarded frequently enough. Try pairing small rewards (like a few M&M's or time doing an activity he enjoys) for a certain number, with the larger reward for an end goal. This may keep him on track.